NFF Presidency: Akinwunmi, Emeruwa Uchegbulam Schemed Out, Ogba, Anyansi-Agwu Battle For 1st VP Slot
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By Amaechi Agbo
Barr Seyi Akinwumi, Christian Emeruwa as well as Amanze Uchegbulam among other Southern candidates for the September 30, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF Presidential election will find out sooner than later that their aspiration to succeed incumbent president, Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick maybe an unrewarding venture, after all.
This, of course, is not far fetched as recent development, following the release of the list of cleared candidates for various elective positions in the NFF by the Electoral Committee, adduced.
The Electoral Committee on Monday, September 12, released the list of cleared candidates to contest for the elections when the Elective Congress holds in Benin, Edo State capital.
From the list of presidential candidates, a total of 10 aspirants were giving the node to begin campaign to succeed Amaju Pinnick, who came from the South region of the country.
Among these 10 candidates split geographically are 6 Northerners and four Southerners.
The four Southerners are: 1st Vice President, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi – South-West; Head of Safety and Security of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, Dr. Christian Emeruwa and Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam; Chairman of the Imo State Football Association (both from South-East region) as well as former Nigeria international goalkeeper, Peterside Idah – South-South; have all been schemed out of the presidential race.
This is because the position of the 1st Vice President has been “zoned” to the South-East region with only three candidates from the area cleared to contest for the position.
The three candidates are: current Members of the NFF Board, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu – Abia State; and Senator Obinna Ogba – Ebonyi State as well as Mr Chinedu Okoye from Anambra State.
Stakeholders have argued that with the 1st Vice President slot “zoned” to South-East, it would be easier for a carmel to pass through the eye of a needle than for any of the four Southerners to become the next NFF President.
According to Osasu Obayiuwaana, a BBC sports reporter, he noted that “political deals have been done underground” to zone the 1st Vice President to South.
“From what I see, from the list of candidates for the presidency, first vice-presidency & other executive committee positions in the NFF, it is clear that political deals have been done underground, by Nigerian football’s principalities and powers.
“They have clearly zoned the 1st Vice-Presidency of NFF to the South-Eastern Zone, to ensure that no Southern candidate in the race can become president. In Nigeria’s geopolitics, the president and 1st VP cannot both come from South or North.
“This means the NFF presidential candidates from the South, like Dr Emeruwa (from the South East), as well as Amanze Uchegbulam (also from the same region), as well as Seyi Akinwunmi, current first VP (from the South-West) have a very steep, if not impossible, hill to climb,” he said.
His view corroborates that of former Super Eagles captain and striker, Segun Odegbami who had earlier stated that it would be “so difficult for a Southerner to replace” Amaju Pinnick as NFF’s new president.
The Mathematical based his premise on the regional politics that has permeated Nigeria political sphere.
“I am not vast in politics and when you want to go for any position, what ever position that there is a process you go to, you have to campaign, you have to meet people and in this environment, you have to bribe, you have to cheat, you have to manipulate certificates you have to do all kinds of things to win elections in this part and football is not immune from it,” Odegbai said. “It also matters where you come from.
“Are you Yoruba or Igbo from the North or South? It is like the elections we are going to have in September; the big factor will be where the different candidates are going to come from.
“We have had a Delta man who is outgoing now. I can bet that it will be so difficult for any Southerner to be the next president of the Nigerian Football Federation, because the big question will be whether they have had their turn, this is our own turn.”
This however is not limiting the capacities of any of the four Southerners to breathe a breath of fresh air into Nigeria football should they overcome the odds, but from the existing reality, it would amount to political suicide to align that another Southerner could succeed Amaju Pinnick as NFF President come September 30, 2022.